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In Pacific Northwest, a welcome break from a very wet week

Flood watches continue in the Pacific Northwest, but the latest storm to blow in via the 'Pineapple Express' has moved inland. Some areas have seen as much as 15-20 inches of rain since Nov. 27.

By Staff writer / December 5, 2012

The length of a sinkhole caused by an overflow of water from Lafayette Creek is measured in Lafayette, Calif., on Dec. 4.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

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Ashland, Ore.

The early winter storms that soaked northern California, Oregon, and Washington over the past week are expected to taper off Wednesday evening. That’s welcome news to areas across the region that have seen swollen rivers and saturated ground with some local flooding.

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Still, forecasters emphasize that winter weather advisories remain in effect for the Cascade Mountains in Washington and the Sierra Nevadas in California, and flood watches continue for western Washington and Oregon as well as northern California.

“After almost a week of heavy rain, the West will finally get a break from the deluge as this last Pacific frontal system has now pushed far enough inland in the northern Rockies,” the National Weather Service’s Hydrometeorological Prediction Center reported Wednesday morning. “The exception to this is northern California, where moderate rain is still possible as the southern portion of this system pushes through.”

The possibility of landslides remains a concern in some areas, particularly in steep mountainous areas. US Forest Service crews have been repairing small slides, removing downed trees, and unplugging culverts along unpaved roads used for logging, fire-fighting, and recreation.

“Rain over the past week has increased soil moisture to high levels across western Washington,” reports the National Weather Service in Seattle. “Cumulative rainfall has soaked soils to the point where western Washington landslide risk level is moderate…. Areas most susceptible for landslides are steep coastal bluffs and other steep hillsides.”

In southern Oregon, the Coquille River has exceeded its flood stage, bringing minor flooding of farmland and other low-lying areas. Oregon’s Umpqua, Illinois, and Rogue Rivers remain under flood watch as well.

Meanwhile, northern California is expecting another inch of rain, with coastal mountains seeing as much as six inches of precipitation before the storm moves out by Thursday.

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